Zimbabwe United Nations Association (ZUNA) recently commemorated International Water Day celebrations in the high density suburb of Tafara. The event was hosted by Tafara High 1, and focussed on the importance of freshwater and the sustainable management of freshwater resources.
Running under the theme “Water and Sustainable Development”, the event followed on the heels of the annual International Water Day on 22 March.
Delivering a message on behalf of the Secretary General of the United Nations was Mrs Tafadzwa Mwale, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Officer in Charge. She urged citizens to fully utilise the natural resources available to them and also spoke of the various challenges faced as a result of poor water facilities.
“Some one billion people still live without sanitation and two billion still practice open defecation making sanitation the least achieved millennium goal,” said Mwale.
Goal 7 of the millennium development goals (MDGs) sought to ensure environmental sustainability, and part 7C was to halve – by this year – the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. However, the UN MDG 2014 reports states that “People in rural areas, the poor and minorities have less access to both improved water and sanitation.” Access to drinking water is in fact down.
Residents of Tafara access their water from public boreholes, with a few households using wells. Most use the boreholes however, which service a huge number of people including many from the neighbouring suburb of Mabvuku. Queues at the water points are a common sight, and residents have to wake up early to fetch water if they hope to be on time for their days. Residents say they have ceased to dream of water gushing from their taps, but rather wish that the public boreholes may be increased in number for easy access .
Absentee guest of honour, Saviour Kasukuwere, Minister of Environment, Water and Climate, in a speech read on his behalf, spoke on the importance of water as an objective recognised by the United Nations.
“As we come to the end of the millennium development goals where water was on MDG 7, we are now focusing on the post-2015 agenda where we have proposed 17 sustainable development goals, and water is still among these,” said his replacement.
Minister Kasukuwere commended ZUNA for the work it is doing for awareness in educational institutions on the crucial need to conserve water, adding that it is everyone’s role to use water sustainably. ”As a ministry we try to engage all stakeholders such as ZINWA, local authorities, citizens and other organisations on issues to do with water,” said Kasukuwere’s proxy.
The entertainment was through song and dance from popular Harare singer Pauline Gundidza and friend Chiedza, and performances from various attending Harare schools. The quiz that took place was won by Dzivarasekwa 2, beating Kawadzana, Mufakose 4, Marlborough, and Pinewood High, among other schools.
Harare has faced serious water woes for more than a decade, with Mabvuku –Tafara among the most affected, where some residents have endured 12 years without water. MP James Maridadi, with oversight of the area, expressed hope that in hosting the celebrations in this water-thirsty area, the plight of residents would be highlighted to other stakeholders.